Testing of a LoRa-WAN digital ranching system on desert rangelands: some practical experiences

TitleTesting of a LoRa-WAN digital ranching system on desert rangelands: some practical experiences
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMcIntosh M, Cibils AF, Nyamuryekung’e S, Estell RE, Cox A., Duni D, Utsumi S.A., Gong Q, Waterhouse A, Holland JP, Cao H, Boucheron LE, Chen H., Spiegal S
Conference Name2021 NMSU ACES BEEF, DAIRY AND LIVESTOCK UPDATE Presented by NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
Date Published2021
ARIS Log Number392544
Keywordsbeef cattle, digital agriculture, GPS-tracking, Precision grazing, Precision livestock farming, rain gauge sensor, water level sensor

Precision livestock farming (PLF) is an emerging agricultural strategy that incorporates sensors and data analytics to inform management decisions (Neethirajan, 2017; Tedeschi et al., 2021). Though common in household and more intensive livestock and crop production systems, Internet of Things (IoT) tools are in earliest stages of development for extensive beef and sheep production systems on arid rangeland primarily due to limited infrastructure and lack of Wi-Fi, cellular (e.g. 3 and 4G), or satellite network access. Yet Long Range Wide Area Networks (Lora-WAN) could offer a high efficiency and low-cost solution to this hindrance as they promise near-real time long-range coverage (e.g. > 6 mi), a strong signal, long battery life, and customizable data collection units (e.g. widgets or sensors), compared to other conventional network types (Bocquier et al., 2014). Precision livestock technologies could provide New Mexican livestock producers novel tools for realtime monitoring of animal location and activity, asset tracking, and infrastructure monitoring in the face of a dwindling workforce and harsher climate (Spiegal et al., 2020).
This study aimed to test a PLF LoRa-WAN-based monitoring system across four pastures (12,000 ac) of Chihuahuan Desert rangeland. We report the installation protocol, maintenance, and practical applications associated with the system.